Making the World of Warcraft more trivial, one post at a time…

Another day, another set of expansion pack rumours. You can see them in all their potentially spoilerish glory at MMO Champion, and the BBBBBBBBB has given his take already. 

At first, I was a bit "meh" about the news. Only little globbets of new environments to explore? Half the levelling to do? That last bit rankled particularly, as it was expressed in terms of "it was taking manpower away from making the important stuff: raids" terms, to which you can have a double portion of "meh", with some whipped "meh" and a "meh" on top. I'm no raider, and marginalising levelling content in favour of raiding? It would alienate too many casual players.

That said, there are some intriguing possibilities in theses rumours. If they really did take the time to revamp Azeroth, then the way is opened for a fully progressive, phased world. And that could have all sorts of fascinating implications:

  • Imagine that, after the fall of Arthas, the Plaguelands start to be reclaimed. New Lordaeron arises in the Eastern Plaguelands, while the Western Plaguelands becomes a Wintergrasp-style battle zone as the Forsaken and the humans vie for supremacy. For sub-80s, they're still Plaguelands, for post-80s, they're new content.
  • Invasions could actually occur and make a difference. The Burning Legion invade as we hit level 95? We lose whole zones to invaders once we hit the appropriate levels (or finish the right quests). 

And more than that, if the rumours are right, and the level cap really is going to be 85, then perhaps this is the first sign of Blizz hitting their aspiration for yearly expansions:

  • 5 levels per expansion
  • 2 tiers of raiding per expansion
  • Less time podding around at the level cap
  • Less need for gear levelling late in an expansion or at the start of the next
  • A revamped old world means that an Emerald Dream expansion could be extensive but (relatively) quickly produced, because it traded of existing landscape, phased.

 There are some interesting possibilities in these rumours – but I'm not sold on them due to some details I find hard to believe. (I don't think for one second that Thrall is going to be the next Guardian of Tirisfal, as it doesn't match either his or the Guardian story in any useful way. And what would Malfurion have to do with all of that?)

Ah, well. This time next week we'll know.

  • loren wade

    I’m with you on this one. Another confusing thing for me is how the phasing would work? Assuming what you said is a possibility, I could be in Lordaeron with my 80, but my lowbie friend would be questing? How would I help him? Would I use a hearthstone-like item to switch environments? How would this work? Just curious on what you think.

  • I like the idea of a more dynamic setting – the feeling that you’re influencing the environment – and in many regards it’d make good on some of the original ideas (e.g. the alliance drive into the Barrens that was originally planned, IIRC). However, they’d need to refine the phasing system – some of the icecrown quests were a real pain, not because of the mobs themselves but because different people would be in different phases – so Joe who has already done the quest can stand next to Fred who is on it, but can’t help … some mechanism for helping others would be useful.

    Anyway, I’m sure we’ll find out this coming weekend.

  • Personally, I’m looking forward to the Gnomish Time-shifter-Ally-aligner 3000 Deluxe which will solve that problem. 😉

  • Yup – I think they would need to introduce some system of “time-shifting”, so you could align with a friend in a different phase to to you. An engineering device, perhaps? 🙂